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Faculty Research May Lead to Improvements for Infectious Disease Testing

Zhenpeng-Qin

New research from Dr. Zhenpeng Qin, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was recently highlighted as an important part of the effort to improve rapid testing for infectious diseases including coronavirus.

UT Dallas News Center originally reported the research and interdisciplinary collaboration.

University of Texas at Dallas researchers have developed a promising method for remotely stimulating activity in deep brain regions, advancing understanding of how molecules act in the brain and paving the way for better cancer treatments and therapies for other diseases.

The approach is based on the powerful combination of gold nanoparticles and lasers, which also plays a critical role in another UT Dallas research project aimed at developing a rapid diagnostic test for influenza and, possibly, the COVID-19 virus.

“We want to improve the tests’ sensitivity so that doctors can make the judgment call right in front of the patient, to be able to say either you have it or you don’t have it,” Qin said.

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WFAA reported the potential impact of the research.

“UT Dallas researchers say they’re in final stages of creating rapid tests for respiratory viruses like COVID-19. The coronavirus is just one of the types of diseases this new tech can detect accurately and quickly, researchers said. That’s why the diagnostic test for virus infections the UT Dallas team is working on could be a disrupter: it would be both rapid and sensitive.”

Qin also discussed the practical aspects of the improved rapid testing for physicians.

“The goal here we’re looking at is to be able to detect this [quickly]”, Qin said. “For example, if you go to a caregiver, you can get the results before you leave the clinic… It’s really important to know whether someone is infected, whether they’re symptomatic or asymptomatic, so you can tell the patient ‘Okay, you know even if you’re not symptomatic, stay at home.’ If we don’t know how many people get infected, there’s a lot of people walking around without symptoms but carrying the virus.”